The height of irony recently has got to be the news that Obama solicits designers to work - unpaid - on ... jobs poster!. $60 million cash on hand in campaign funding and not a penny goes toward this poster. Obama, after all, is the guy who raised more campaign money than any candidate in history, but apparently he doesn't like to use it.
The creative brief is basically an unpaid pitch, or just your regular run-of-the-mill crowdsourcing gig. As Adage points out it even has the classic rights grab baked into - even if you don't win, all your intellectual property belongs to Obama campaign.
I guess when Obama promised to create jobs, nobody realized he didn't say "paid".
The Graphic Arts Guild has written an open letter to Obama about this, and they don't mince words when they slap Obama with a history lesson of how the New Deal dealt with this exact issue.
There is a great historical precedent of our government – a Democratic President – hiring artists to promote job programs:
"During the Great Depression of the 1930's, the U.S. government had sponsored a work program that valued artists enough to employ hundreds of them to make posters." "During the 1930's, the United States was in crisis and nearly one-third of the country's workforce was unemployed. In an effort to rebuild the nation, boost the economy, and enhance community life, newly elected President Franklin D. Roosevelt launched a series of programs in 1933 called the New Deal. The largest agency of this reform program, the Works Progress Administration (later named the Works Projects Administration), existed from 1935-1943 and employed millions of jobless workers in an ambitious campaign to strengthen the nation's infrastructure through a network of highways, bridges, and large-scale civic projects such as dams, parks, and utilities.
"Many of the WPA's undertakings still form the framework of the United States. In addition, depression-era Americans were able to connect with a broad range of fine and performing arts aimed at enhancing the quality of life. Through the administration of Federal Project Number One, the WPA presented cultural events including concerts, art exhibitions, and plays, all contained under the umbrella of the Federal Art Project (FAP).
"Under the FAP, the WPA Poster Division was charged with producing posters to raise awareness and promote a wide range of programs, activities, and behaviors that the Roosevelt administration believed would improve people's lives…"
[Carter, Ennis, Christopher DeNoon, and Alexander M. Peltz. Introduction. Posters for the People: Art of the WPA. Philadelphia, PA: Quirk, 2008. Print.]
Approximately 500 artists were hired by the FAP; more than 35,000 posters were designed and 2 million printed. Many of these posters are now part of the Library of Congress collection. All of these artists were paid and given credit on their work.
The Obama For America re-election campaign contest, "Art Works: A poster contest to support American jobs," is shameful. American artists should be outraged that our President does not recognize that we are entitled to be paid for our work, as are all Americans.
Most tellingly, despite this being in Time as well, the Obama campaign hasn't seen fit to revise this idea.
No wonder people are holding all kinds of other signs in parks across America.